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Bollywood Lacking Representation? Priyanka As Mary Kom To Vaani Kapoor As Transwoman?

Priyanka Chopra recently admitted in an interview that the role of Mary Kom in the athlete's biopic should have been played by a north-east actor.

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Bhavya Saini
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Priyanka Chopra on playing Mary Kom said in an interview that the part should have been played by a northeast actor as she did not look like her physically. The actor revealed the difficulties she faced while prepping herself to play Mary Kom in the movie as she was inspired by the athlete.
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Bollywood has started characterising many diversities and minorities of the society in its movies to familiarise the audience with the difficulties faced by them in their lives and also to normalise their individualities as a part of the society. Yet these characterisations often lack proper and adequate representation from the concerned communities.

Priyanka Chopra in her interview with Vanity Fair spoke up about the difficulties she faced while playing Mary Kom in the athlete’s biopic as she didn’t look like her. The actor had to embody the athlete’s spirit because of this lack of resemblance which was both mentally and physically tough.

Priyanka Chopra on playing Mary Kom: I look nothing like her

“I look nothing like her. She comes from the northeast of India and I am from northern India and we physically didn’t look alike.” The actor said admitting that the part should have been played by a northeast woman. She further added, “I spent a lot of time with her so that she could educate me about what her choices were, why she made the choices that she did.”

The film Mary Kom was criticised during its release for starring Priyanka Chopra as a north-eastern sportsperson. The film stirred huge controversy over the lack of representation of the north-east in Bollywood condemning this decision as racist. However, the actor has been praised for her performance with many awards.

Chopra admitting the lack of representation of diversity is a step towards acknowledging this inadequacy. Bollywood with its lack of diverse artists, is also responsible for stereotypical and prejudiced characterisations of communities. The begging transwomen at red lights, tom boy attitudes of lesbian females, are few such characterisations which needs to be stopped.

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Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui: The film lacks the representation LGBTQ community needs?

Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, which revolves around the life of a transwoman, featured cisgender actor Vaani Kapoor to play the transwoman. Many criticised this move over the lack of representation of the LGBTQ community yet the movie earned a positive reception.

Director Abhishek Kapoor acknowledged this criticism as he pointed out to the fact that Bollywood is still in its primal stage towards being open about such sensitive issues and normalising it in the Indian society. He further added that the steps taken in this direction may allow representation and participation of communities in the upcoming years if not now.

“In this movie, I think, the attempt has been to at least take some giant steps in that direction and maybe in the next couple of years, if we do make some more movies about issues like this and characters like that and we will cast transgender people in these roles. I think we will make up for this distance very soon,” He mentioned addressing the lack of representation in Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui.

It is a good sign that the directors and filmmakers are acknowledging and are being responsible for the lack of representation of various diversities in the Indian community. Bollywood needs to learn to be more inclusive and open to representation in itself first, only then it will be able to create an impact to break the rigid archetypal perceptions about the communities of the society.

Views expressed by the author are their own.

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